Sunday, December 29, 2013

In the Rear View Mirror--Idyll Haven

 It's my habit to look back on gardens visited at the end of the year; and at the same time I start to look forward to what the next year holds. 2013 was particularly fine and I have high hopes for 2014. Any year that I have the opportunity to visit my friends in New England is a good one for me .

 What accident of fate made me a California girl ? A beautiful , diverse state--4 hours to the dessert, 3 hours to the Sierra Nevada, 1 hour to our spectacular coast. 5 hours I'm in Oregon, 7 I'm in San Diego.Walk out my door, I'm in wine country. None of this is taken for granted. And even so, when I venture away from here , I can clearly see the attributes of places that are not California. My friend Sue is a New Englander, born and raised. She does battle with bugs that don't hang around at my house -thank god. She lives with that humid thing -but the tropicals love it.It actually rains in summer  and you can't buy that kind of water.  In July I have to put on long sleeves to go outside after the sun goes down. I could leave the long sleeves at home when I go to New England in July if it weren't  for freezing cold airplane a/c and having to wait for an airport shuttle bus outside in San Francisco.

 I visited Idyll Haven in June where we gathered to kick-off our annual Idyllunion garden touring long weekend. Is this New England or what ?

One of my favorite areas of Sues property is the garden that runs along the driveway..Sue has wonderful design instincts and no fear of editing her choices if shes not happy with the result.

I try to avoid overused lingo like  'garden rooms' but in fact as the paths meander around the perimeter of the house , and encounter boundaries such as the low green picket fence or a small speciman tree , it is quite like a series of rooms .  Here we see the east side . I'd be pretty jazzed if my Symphytum got that big.

 Step up to the fence and see the view to the back garden.

The patio garden.

 New England isn't on my travel agenda for 2014 , so I guess it will be another year or so til I get my  next Idyll Haven fix.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bloomday Goose Egg

 Even the Alyssum are fried. Not a single bloom in my garden this month..the Camellias closed up shop, the Lavenders that were blooming away  merrily in November are waving the white flag. Several nights in a row of consistent temperatures in the low twenties have laid my garden low. To many of my friends east of the Rockies, my twenties are mundane and maybe even warm-ish .I was significantly under-prepared ;plants that I routinely leave out for the winter appear quite dead. On the plus side, the weighty decision of whether to cut back now or wait til spring has been taken off my hands-might just as well cut !

Thanks Carol , for the opportunity to see what blooms in gardens around the globe. Except for mine.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Camera Walk

It is my custom to go out on Thanksgiving morning at sunrise to shoot fall vineyard shots. I ended up at the river instead, and had a fine time shooting reflections in the water. On the way home I stopped downtown , took a few more riverside shots and noticed a few November oddities around the promenade .

At this upscale hotel, the guests have views  of stuff that should be black slime by now...

Tibouchina in full bloom..

The Weigela on the right hasn't lost a leaf.

These Cannas look puny, but still  have leaves. Very few Aloes are hardy here, but these seem robust.


Aeoniums live on...

Not to mention the Colocasias.

More Aeoniums hang out with a squirrel topiary.

Pomegranates love it here.

This quasi bonsai-ed olive tree was oddly positioned in  a planter with Stipa , Canna and a few other unrelated plants.

I believe these are winter hardy..

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weekend in Yosemite

 I am in the habit of taking time off in October ; usually a trip to the coast combined with a few days of fall clean-up at home. This year I headed to the Sierra for a 3 day photography workshop in Yosemite National Park -thankfully Uncle Sam came to his senses (such as they are) in time to avert possible cancellation. I signed up for this class on a whim , after receiving a brochure during a morning members-only photo walk at the Ruth Bancroft Garden with photographer John Ricca in August. Read about that here. John was the right hand man for our instructor Keith Walklet  of Quietworks Photography . Keith lived and photographed in Yosemite for many years before moving to Boise and his intimate knowledge of the park , it's sunlight patterns and shooting conditions made for a wonderful 3 days --in the end I was happily shocked to realize how much I had learned .

 Mornings began before sunrise as we met for breakfast and set out to our first shooting location.We would stay out in the field til about 10am and then return to the village for some classroom time and lunch. In the afternoon we would head out again and shoot til the sun went down.

 These are some of the photos I came home with..pretty sure I could not have done this pre-class. Thank you Keith and John ! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Wall

 My intention was to post this as my favorite plant of the week, and link it up to Lorees meme. I never quite got there.

 Parthenocissus is not the most exciting or unusual plant , and for some it is probably thuggish. I planted mine in fall of 2012, in desparation to hide this wall: I loathe this wall. I hate this wall. Loathe loathe, hate hate. Featureless stucco walls are all too common in tract housing here in California. Cheaper than the siding that clads the front and the more visible south  side , it is a huge expanse of nothingness that my next door neighbors are forced to look at when they are washing the dishes. Note the attractive satellite TV cable. On the lower right you can see the Parthenocissus , heading for domination. Go Parthenocissus, go !

And soon, I will have fall foliage. I will defeat this wall.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I admire gardeners who excel at documentation. Garden journals, spreadsheets, detailed maps  and planting calendars- I have tried all of them at one time or another in the 30 plus years I have been making gardens, and most were as short lived as my Eryngiums. I know gardeners who diligently keep daily records of high and low temperatures, rainfall, wind speed and direction, moon name it. I was triumphant the year I actually recorded the date I sowed seeds, and the date they germinated.

 Several years ago I went to a plant swap that included books and there, pristine and untouched,  
was this impressive hard bound garden journal. I had seen it before in a mail order catalog and knew it was pricy; I snatched it up without even looking at the rest of the book offerings-here was the answer to my lackadaisical record keeping.!

10 years at a glance ! Garden maps !

Predictably, it remains unused on my bookcase . Whats the point in mapping a garden I change every year?  The book has the heft of an encyclopedia volume , and no weatherproofing-not something I could carry around the garden unless I rigged up a desk on wheels. Looks nice on the bookcase though. Clearly the gardener who offered this at the plant swap had similar issues to mine.

  I am happy to say that I did eventually develop a very rustic system of documenting my garden. It's a two part affair, consisting of organizing plant labels and written records. I gave myself permission to write sporadically, and I recognized that I am a list maker -sometimes self awareness is needed in the garden. I bought a spiral notebook, and simply started making lists of things I wanted to accomplish , and crossed them out when completed.This is a de facto history as long as I remember to put the month and year on each page. I like writing in pencil, so that is what I use.

 And here we have the Tag-Bags ..Each named area in the garden has it's own bag. When I  plant something the tag goes in it's bag. If I move something, I move the tag too. A few times a year I go through the bags and toss the stuff I dug up . The bags are binder-clipped together and hang from a nail over the workbench in my garage.

 This fall I am adding a "Dead or Discarded" bag...I expect I will be horrified by the volume of it's contents.

Monday, October 14, 2013

October Bloomday

 October has been so very pleasant here, with only the increasingly cold and dark mornings reminding me that the party will be over before too long. I have many projects on the punch list for fall and winter and I am trying to execute as many as possible now before the rains come. We have not had frost yet , and so the blooms continue, though the lowering angle of the sun has plunged summer-sunny areas into shade -floppiness ensues...

Rozanne is never defeated..

Trachelium is pushing out a fall rebloom after some aggressive deadheading in August.

Persicaria continues to bloom away, and clash with everything in it's immediate area.

This is Prospero, one of my 'keeper' roses.

African Blue Basil, could be history at any time .

Does this count ? Eupatorium 'Gateway'  kind of bloomed out, but I love the seedheads..

Calamagrostis 'Overdam'

Unnamed succulent..unnamed because I've had it for at least 20 years, dating back to the days when most succulents sported tags that said "Assorted Succulent "

 And here is the rest.. Dahlias still linger, Salvia 'Black and Blue' , faded PeeGee Hydrangeas and swamp Verbena, and the elegant droop of Claudia Cardinale.

Carol at May Dreams is our hostess for blooms around the planet, every month..Happy GBBD !